This film is about the work of American artists, Carmen de Lavallade and Geoffrey Holder who stepped forward in the 1950's to play a vital part in the newly energized world of modern dance. It is also about a forty-seven year long marriage and creative partnership that has sustained their accomplishments.
Over the past three years, Linda Atkinson (a student of Carmen’s) and Nick Doob have filmed the virtually uninterrupted creativity of this couple, now in their 70’s. The film’s style is spontaneous, intimate and revealing, showing Carmen and Geoffrey’s natural penchant for uncommon good humor.
Born in New Orleans, Carmen won a scholarship at age 16 to study in Los Angeles with the pioneering choreographer, Lester Horton. She brought her high school classmate, Alvin Ailey to his first dance class. Noticed by Herbert Ross, she appeared he invited her and Ailey to dance in the Broadway production of Truman Capote’s House of Flowers. Another member of that cast was Geoffrey Holder. They were married soon after. Carmen is also a noted choreographer and actor but her solo dance career is legendary, both with Ailey as well as John Butler, Jose Limon, Donald McKayle and others.
Geoffrey Holder came from Trinidad to debut in House of Flowers, which he also co-choreographed with Herbert Ross. Later he directed and designed the costumes for The Wiz winning two Tonys in the process. Geoffrey’s world-class talent as a painter has been recognized with a Guggenheim fellowship and he is a prize-winning author and photographer. His ballet, Dougla is a permanent part of the Dance Theatre of Harlem’s repertoire, as is his work Prodigal Prince for the Ailey Company.
The film was shot in New York, Texas, Trinidad and Paris and contains rare dance footage featuring them from the 50’s and 60’s, both solo and together. It also includes their work with Ailey, Ross, Horton, Joe Layton, Duke Ellington and Josephine Baker in Paris. There are scenes of their contemporary work, including Carmen’s on-going partnership with Gus Solomons jr and Dudley Williams and both Carmen’s and Geoffrey’s current choreography.
The film provides young people with role models of lives boldly lived and above all will offer a paradigm for survival and accomplishment in one of the toughest professions to which anyone can aspire.